Short Rib Ragu with Rigatoni

Slow cooked Short Rib Ragu with Rigatoni pasta is the ultimate comfort food pasta dish! A rich and hearty sauce made from tomatoes, fresh herbs, parmesan, and slow braised short ribs, served over your favorite pasta. 

A bowl of short rib ragu rigatoni with fresh herbs.

I LOVE a slow braised recipe. The kind that sits on the stove, or in the oven for hours, filling the house with delicious savory and meaty aromas. Well, this short rib ragu recipe is one of those!

Beef short ribs are seared to develop maximum delicious flavor, then slowly braised for hours making them perfectly tender. They are combined with a homemade tomato sauce that makes for the most mouth watering pasta dish!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • All the flavor of slow braised beef PLUS pasta
  • Super rich and savory
  • Great meal for family dinner or a lazy weekend (2-3 hours of oven time!)

Equipment needed

Ingredients & Substitutions

Beef short ribs – I like bone-in ribs for this recipe. You can substitute for boneless short ribs, however the bones help to add more flavor during the braising process. Fatty and rich short ribs are perfect for the combination of searing + slow braising. 

Aromatics – I used a traditional mirepoix of onions, carrots, and celery for this recipe along with lots of garlic. I used 5 garlic cloves, but let’s be honest, you can measure the garlic with your heart. Add a whole head if that’s what you’re into. 

Tomatoes – To make the homemade tomato sauce, use a combination of tomato paste and whole peeled tomatoes. I usually crush the tomatoes with my hand (gloves are great for this), or with a potato masher. You can substitute for a can of crushed tomatoes instead. 

Dry red wine – I typically use cabernet sauvignon since it’s my favorite to drink. Other dry reds include sangiovese, or pinot noir. Check out this list of wines from dry to sweet from Wine Folly. For a non alcoholic swap, use broth or water. 

Beef stock – I love using a beef base like Better Than Bouillon and adding water. 

Fresh herbs – This is a very rich dish, so the addition of fresh herbs is helpful. You can add the herbs in whole, and remove them at the end. You can also make an herb bundle by tying them together with butcher twine, or make a sachet out of cheesecloth to make removing easier. 

Parmesan rind – I often talk about using authentic Parmigiano Reggiano in my recipes. The flavor is rich, nutty, and SO good with little flavor crystals. You can buy it in a wedge from a larger block, which usually has a part of the rind attached. I grate it myself and save the rinds in a container in the refrigerator to add a flavor pop to soups, stews, and sauces. They last a really long time so you don’t have to worry about them going bad. You can substitute for 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese. Stir it in at the end with the cream. 

Pasta – I used rigatoni here but your favorite pasta shape will work. Pappardelle pasta is a classic for serving with ragu. Bonus points if you make your own pasta!

Labeled ingredients for making short rib ragu rigatoni.

See the recipe card below for full list of ingredients and measurements.

English vs Flanken Cut Short Ribs

You will often find beef short ribs cut into either English cut or flanken cut. 

English cut short ribs are cut between the rib bones, leaving meat and fat attached to the bone.

Flanken cut short ribs are cut crosswise through the bones and are usually a thinner cut. English cut is the most common type and is what I usually find at my local butcher. I used English style cut for this recipe, but either one will work. 

Step By Step Instructions

First, prep all your ingredients. Do the chopping and the measuring before you start cooking for a more streamlined cooking process. 

Sear the short ribs on all sides until a browned crust develops, and set aside. 

PRO TIP: Use tongs to make turning the short ribs much easier. 

Seared bone-in short ribs in a Dutch oven.
Sear the short ribs.
Sautéed mirepoix in a Dutch oven.
Sauté mirepoix.

Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until starting to caramelize. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant. Add tomato paste and cook until it darkens slightly. 

Deglaze with red wine, scraping up any fond with a wooden spoon

Fond – the browned bits that collect on the bottom of the pot or pan when searing proteins or vegetables. They are little flavor packets, so you want to incorporate them into the sauce or dish. Deglazing uses a liquid to help loosen the bits and dissolve them into the sauce.

Sautéed vegetables deglazed with red wine.
Deglaze with red wine.
Short ribs with herbs, parmesan rind, and tomatoes in a large pot.
Add braising liquid to the pot.

Add in crushed tomatoes, short ribs, herbs, parmesan rind, and enough beef broth to almost cover the short rib. Cook covered in the oven for about 2-3 hours, until the short ribs are tender and falling off the bone. 

PRO TIP: Short ribs can be very rich and fatty, so the braising liquid may have a layer of oil on top. Skim it off with a ladle or use a fat separator to remove it. 

Braised short ribs in a pot.
Short ribs should be very tender.
Shredded short ribs on a cutting board.
Discard bones and fat.

Simmer uncovered on the stove top until juices reduce and sauce is desired consistency. Remove short rib meat from the bone and return shredded meat to the pot. Stir in heavy cream. 

Short rib ragu with cream poured in.
Stir in cream.
Short rib ragu topped with herbs in a pot.
Top with fresh herbs.

Serve with al dente rigatoni, pappardelle, or your favorite pasta. Top with more fresh herbs and parmesan. For extra creaminess, top with a dollop of ricotta cheese. 

Want more slow cooked deliciousness? Try Creamy Bolognese Sauce or Braised Short Rib Risotto with Mushrooms

Serving Suggestions

This delicious short rib ragu is a rich sauce, so keep the sides light. I would recommend serving this with a simple green salad and vinaigrette or simple vegetables like Roasted Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts. For appetizers, try a simple Burrata Caprese Salad.

Tips for the best pasta

  • Heavily salt the pasta water! Well salted water means the pasta itself will be well salted. I use about 1 tablespoon of salt for 1 pound of pasta. 
  • Don’t overcook! No one likes mushy pasta. Cook pasta to al dente or just under. When you combine the pasta and sauce together, the residual heat will cook it just a little bit more. 
  • Save some pasta water! Pasta water is truly magical. It’s salty and starchy and the perfect glue for sticking the sauce to the pasta. Stir some pasta water in with the sauce and cooked pasta to combine.  

Some of my favorite pasta sauces are Homemade Hearty Marinara Sauce, Creamy Bolognese Sauce and Spicy Rigatoni alla Vodka.

Sign up for the newsletter, its juicy.

Tips for getting the perfect sear

Searing meat helps add an unbeatable depth of flavor to a dish. Just think – would you rather eat a microwaved steak, or one seared on a flaming hot grill? We can thank the Maillard reaction for this. I won’t get all sciency on you, but Serious Eats has a great Introduction to the Maillard Reaction article if you want to read more about it.

Here are some steps to take to ensure that perfectly umami-packed sear. 

  • Dry the beef thoroughly. Moisture is the enemy of a nice sear. Too much moisture on the outside of the beef, and it starts to steam instead of sear. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and then pat them down again. 
  • Use a screaming hot pan. Always let your pan heat up fully before adding your protein. To test this add a few drops of water to the pan. If it skitters around, sizzles, and evaporates, then its hot enough. 
  • Turn on your vent. This one doesn’t exactly help the meat to sear, but it does help keep your kitchen from smoking up. 

See this Braised Pot Roast post for more tips on searing beef. 

A bowl of short rib ragu rigatoni with fresh herbs with parmesan cheese on a microplane.

Troubleshooting

Sauce is too greasy – Short ribs are heavily marbled cuts of meat. During cooking, that fat will render out creating a layer of oil at the top. Skim off as much rendered fat as you can from the surface with a ladle. You can also use a fat separator to make pouring off the fat easier. 

Short ribs are tough – After 2 hours of cooking, the short ribs should be falling off the bone and very tender. If not, let them braise in the oven for another 30 minutes or so. They need enough time to let the connective tissue break down during cooking, so if they still seem tough, cook them a little longer. 

Storage & Reheating

How to store leftovers – Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Keep pasta and sauce separately. 

How to freeze – You can freeze this pasta sauce for 3-6 months. I like to add 2-4 servings in a quart size freezer bag, and lie flat to freeze. Once frozen you can stand up the bag and store filing cabinet style for easy access. Don’t forget to label and date!

How to defrost – Submerge the frozen bag in cool water until mostly defrosted. It will usually take less than 30 minutes. 

How to reheat – My favorite way to reheat sauces is in a saucepan on the stove, but this sauce should easily reheat in the microwave. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this in a slow cooker?

To make this dish in a slow cooker or crock pot, complete steps 1-4 as normal (prep, sauté, sear, and deglaze) on the stove in a dutch oven or heavy pot. Then transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.

Can I make this ahead of time?

This is one of those recipes that is perfectly fine made ahead of time, and is just as delicious (if not more) the next day. 

Let’s hang out! Follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or sign up for the newsletter.

A bowl of short rib ragu rigatoni with fresh herbs.

Short Rib Ragu with Rigatoni

Slow cooked Short Rib Ragu with Rigatoni pasta is the ultimate comfort food pasta dish! A rich and hearty sauce made from tomatoes, fresh herbs, parmesan, and slow braised short ribs, served over your favorite pasta.
4.89 from 71 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Braise time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian-American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 346 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • PREP: Take beef out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to the time you want to start cooking. Preheat the oven to 350°F and adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Heat up a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Lightly salt the beef. Heat oil for a minute or two.
  • SEAR: Sear the short ribs on all sides until a browned crust develops, a few minutes per side. The darker the better, but not burnt. Remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside.
  • SAUTÉ: Turn heat down to medium low and add in onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes until starting to caramelize. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring, until it darkens slightly.
  • DEGLAZE: Deglaze with red wine, scraping up any fond with a wooden spoon.
  • BRAISE: Add in tomatoes and crush by hand or with a potato masher and stir. Add the short ribs back into the pot along with any juices that have pooled. Add in enough beef broth to almost cover the short ribs. Add in sage, thyme, basil, and parmesan rind. Cook covered in the oven for about 2-3 hours, until the short ribs are tender and falling off the bone.
  • FINISH: Remove from the oven, and skim off any fat that has pooled. Remove herbs and parmesan rind. If needed, simmer uncovered on the stovetop until juices reduce and sauce is desired consistency. Remove short rib meat from the bone and shred or chop into bite sized pieces. Discard bones and excess fat. Return short rib meat to the pot. Turn off heat. Stir in heavy cream. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  • PASTA: While sauce is finishing, cook pasta in a separate pot to al dente.
  • SERVE: Combine a serving of sauce with a serving of pasta and a splash of pasta water. Mix and let simmer for a minute together before serving. Top with more fresh herbs and parmesan.

Notes

  • I used English style cut short ribs for this recipe, but flanken cut will also work. 
  • Substitute 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, finely grated, for parmesan rind.
  • How to store leftovers – Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Keep pasta and sauce separately.
  • How to freeze – You can freeze this pasta sauce for 3-6 months. I like to add 2-4 servings in a quart size freezer bag, and lie flat to freeze. Once frozen you can stand up the bag and store filing cabinet style for easy access. Don’t forget to label and date!
  • How to defrost – Submerge the frozen bag in cool water until mostly defrosted. It will usually take less than 30 minutes.
  • How to reheat – My favorite way to reheat sauces is in a saucepan on the stove, but this sauce should easily reheat in the microwave.
  • Slow cooker directions – To make this dish in a slow cooker, complete steps 1-4 as normal (prep, sauté, sear, and deglaze) on the stove in a dutch oven or heavy pot. Then transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.

Nutrition

Calories: 346kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 26gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 880mgPotassium: 1268mgFiber: 4gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 2597IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 99mgIron: 5mg
Love this recipe? Share it with your friends!Click the "Share on Facebook" button to share it on facebook, and follow the LaurenFromScratch page!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating